I  am in the hotel on Sunday morning after WordCamp US in National Harbor, Maryland. I had such a good time reconnecting with so many people in the WordPress community, I don’t really know where to start. 

The venue was spectacular, and the after party at the Smithsonian was stunning and too short! 

My only regret with not working the booth is not spending more time with some of the Stellar luminaries. The short time I did spend with them I just wanted to hang out with them even more. How lucky am I to just know these people.

I focused on conversations and connections, the hallway tracks and hugs. I focused on what I see as general trends in WordPress and sentiment from those who are building the next generation of the web. 

In a word, I heard that WordPress is stronger than ever. 

There have been shakeups and disruptions in the midst of lockdowns and isolation over the last few years. But the strength of leadership and commitment to the vision of this open source project underscores a very healthy community that is dedicated to making the world a better place. 

Given the disruptions I’ve personally experienced, I am so excited about the focus and commitment to accessibility for all. We are all one personal and painful event away from accessibility being the most important factor in our lives. IYKYK

The commitment to lifting up underrepresented voices warms my heart. The inclusivity of all voices, even those we might not agree with, empowers us all and makes me happier. 

But, we’re here for one reason: to empower people to do more with WordPress. 

It’s one of the reasons I’m so fiercely passionate about Kadence. I’ve sat in the room with people who have never used WordPress before, and I’ve seen them build sites with Kadence Blocks. I want everyone to feel that empowerment. 

That goal and vision is one of the reasons I’m so fiercely passionate about security education. When we turn “scary hackers” into something not so scary because our users are empowered, fear dissolves and people are free to be who they are. I have seen that time and time again, too.

I was honored by so many people I didn’t know who came up to me and said, “You’ve made a difference in my life through the work you do.” I’ve made quite a few new friends. 

I am going home in a couple of hours to hit the ground running on things that matter to me. It means more content, more writing, more teaching, more videos, and more… connection.

You see, if there’s anything I’ve learned from connecting with you fine people, it is that while WordPress is awesome and your software products are great, WordPress is mostly about these people and being of service to them. The money we all make is just the scorecard for that job well done.

And the success of WordPress and its future is dependent on one thing: relationships. 

Out of relationships come better solutions. Out of relationships come “yes, and…” innovations. And out of relationships come new customers, new connections, and new opportunities. 

If you’re focused on your products, that’s great. Products are indeed a good thing.

But if you’re missing out on who you serve, what they need, and how you make their jobs easier and better, your products won’t find success.

It all really comes down to listening to the people who are building amazing things with your products and giving them what they need. Sometimes it isn’t exactly what they think they need. But that first comes down to listening.  

This weekend, I listened more than I talked. 

I spent more time in my heart than I did in my head. 

I no longer go to events with thoughts of ROI. I go to get what I didn’t know that I needed. 

Thank you to the organizers, volunteers, speakers, and the attendees who gave me all of that and more. 

I love you.

Photo credit Michelle Frechette on the StellarWP account because I didn’t get any good location photos and she always does.

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